Opinion » Letters

Take responsibility for the results of your actions


Everyone agrees on the importance of the First Amendment right to free speech, but few acknowledge that this right embodies a responsibility for what one says. For example, in the local debate over the closure of Diablo Canyon, those speaking out in favor of the closure must bear the responsibility for any negative social, economic, and environmental effects on our community that will result from the closure. Maybe their opposition of nuclear power gives them a sense of importance, a feeling that they are doing good, yet this must also be viewed in light of the negative consequences of their actions and speech. No amount of pretending otherwise will save the community or the environment.

Ye adamant defenders of the Second Amendment right to bear arms need to take some responsibility, too, for things like Aurora, Orlando, Sandy Hook, the recent Las Vegas massacre, and all the others in the seemingly endless chain of gun violence. You unquestioningly align yourself with the likes of the NRA (whose clear purpose is to protect the right of gun manufacturers and dealers to make a buck), which for decades has cowered Congress into doing its bidding without so much as a whimper of objection, and you call that democracy. No matter how you look at it, you, too, just like the NRA, have blood on your cold, dead hands.

Talk is cheap, they say. If there is to be any hope for the future, those that insist on exercising these rights need to occasionally question their own beliefs, and carefully consider and understand the consequences of their actions and speech, if only to be sure that they are not doing more harm than good. There is no difference between a person who does wrong thinking they are doing right, and a person who deliberately does wrong. The effect is the same. As a Vietnam veteran, I have understood this for a very long time. So, before you raise your voice and hoist your banners, you had best be sure that you know what you are talking about, that you clearly understand the consequences of your actions, and that you be willing to accept responsibility for them. Otherwise, when the world goes to hell, ignorance will not be an excuse.

Mark Henry

San Luis Obispo

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